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Art Cullen explains how buying his competitor in Storm Lake will shake out for readers

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

This month, Storm Lake became a one-newspaper town. With the help of a billionaire, the Storm Lake Times bought its competitor the Pilot Tribune. How will consolidation impact its journalism?

When the Storm Lake Times opened 32-years ago, there was already a newspaper in town. But as of last week, it's under new management.

The Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune opened in 1870. And by 1990 — when the Times came to town — it had a circulation of 5,000 copies. Last week, the Storm Lake Times announced its "mini-newspaper war" was over. The new paper, the Storm Lake Times Pilot would work to build back the subscriber numbers the Pilot had when the Cullens came to town.

“To provide strong journalism, you need a strong business model. Neither of us had one. Now I think we do,” said Art Cullen the combined papers' editor and publisher said in the announcement.

With the collapse of a masthead, there is some question about how this will impact the coverage readers have come to expect. On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with Cullen to get to the bottom of what this transition will mean.

Next, Axios Des Moines' Jason Clayworth weighs inon his recent work looking at how Des Moines Public Schools is pulling students involved in fights from the physical classroom and into the virtual.Critics are concerned about racial disparities that will result from the policy. As of last week, 50 students were shifted to virtual education under the policy. All but ten of them were students of color.

Last, Dean Adrien Wing of the University of Iowa College of Law shares her perspective on the nomination proceedings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is poised to be the first Black woman confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States.


  • Art Cullen, editor and publisher of The Storm Lake Times Pilot; winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing
  • Jason Clayworth, reporter for Axios Des Moines
  • Adrien Wing, associate dean in international and comparative law programs and the Bessie Dutton Murray Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law; director of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa